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Nanostructures

An unlikely tool for sewage treatment (Photo: Stuart Pilbrow)

A team of Taiwanese researchers is to demonstrate a method of treating sewage using old optical disks such as CDs. The disks are used as a platform to grow minuscule nanorods of zinc oxide, a known photocatalyst capable of breaking down organic matter. By spinning the disks, sewage water spreads into a thin layer through which light can pass, exciting the nanorods into action.  Read More

A new lithographic method has been used to build highly nonlinear optical materials (Photo...

Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Seoul National University have developed a new lithographic method with the help of a very low-tech tool: Scotch Magic tape. This new method, which promises to enhance our ability to fabricate nanostructures, has been used to build highly nonlinear optical materials consisting of sheets of 25 micron (0.001 in) metal blocks separated by nanometer-wide insulating channels. As light squeezes through these channels, incompletely understood plasmonic effects enable novel optical behavior.  Read More

Do 'plasmonic nanostructures' hold the key to next-generation solar power?  (Photo: Shutte...

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to harvest energy from sunlight more efficiently, with the help of so-called plasmonic nanostructures. The new findings suggest that plasmonic components can enhance and direct optical scattering, creating a mechanism that is more efficient than the photoexcitation that drives solar cells. The development could therefore provide a real boost to solar cell efficiency and lead to faster optical communication.  Read More

A statuette of the Stanford bunny made with the resin, before and after being carbonized

Other than putting it in a tiny art gallery, what could you do with a rabbit sculpture that sits just a few micrometers tall? Perhaps not much, although it’s a remarkable example of the level of detail that can be achieved using a new electrically-conductive shapable resin. That same resin could find use in custom-formed electrodes for things like fuel cells, batteries, or even biosensor interfaces used to treat brain disorders.  Read More

The GeS 'nanoflowers' have petals only 20-30 nanometers thick, and provide a large surface...

Researchers have already turned to the humble sunflower for inspiration to design more efficient Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant layouts, and now a team from North Carolina State University has developed a “nanoflower” structure out of germanium sulfide (GeS) that shows great promise for use in energy-storage devices and more efficient solar cells. The secret is the material's ultrathin petals that provide a large surface area in only a small amount of space.  Read More

Thomas Edison with his nickel-iron rechargeable battery in 1910 (Photo: Smithsonian)

A green, rechargeable battery that is suitable for powering electric vehicles and stationary power storage applications, and that would survive tens of thousands of charge cycles in a useful life of 100 years without loss of capacity. What could be a better innovation for our times? Such a battery has been developed, and recently improved by Stanford researchers. Oh, one other thing. The battery was invented by Thomas Edison in 1901.  Read More

IBM's 'ninja polymers' are capable of killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Staphy...

Bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can not only cause potentially lethal infections, but they are also unaffected by commonly-available antibiotics. Even when it comes to bacteria that can be more easily controlled, we are still constantly being warned about the danger of them becoming antibiotic-resistant. Now, however, researchers have discovered a new antiobiotic-free method of killing bacteria including MRSA ... and it’s based on semiconductor technology.  Read More

A new process using table salt increases the data storage density of HDDs by six times (Im...

While Solid State Drives (SSDs) are seen as the way of the future for computer data storage and their prices have started to come down as their capacities increase, they still can't compete with traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) in terms of bang for your buck. Now a team of researchers from Singapore has moved the goalposts yet again and shown traditional HDDs still have some life in them by developing a process that can increase the data recording density of HDDs to six times that of current models.  Read More

Scientists have created a nanoscale piston that is capable of self-assembly (Image: Ivan H...

Just like a regular-sized device requires a regular-sized motor to operate, a nanodevice likewise requires a molecular-scale motor. In some cases, that motor takes the form of a piston, and building a piston that’s just a few nanometers long ... well, it’s pretty hard. It can and has been done, but it’s an extremely fiddly process. Now, scientists from France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Université de Bordeaux, along with colleagues in China, have developed a molecular piston that is capable of assembling itself.  Read More

Blast exposure disrupts the nanostructure of the 'Blast Badge,' resulting in clear changes...

Blast-induced traumatic brain injury from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is the "signature wound" of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the damage to the brain often not immediately obvious and no objective information of relative blast exposure, soldiers may not receive appropriate medical care and are at risk of being returned to the battlefield too soon. To overcome this inadequacy, researchers have developed a color-changing patch that could be worn on soldiers’ helmets and uniforms to indicate the strength of exposure to blasts from explosives in the field.  Read More

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